Zoning and Gentrification Debated in Charlottesville

Feb 22, 2017

Nearly 200 people showed up Tuesday evening to learn about zoning and housing regulations in Charlottesville. WMRA’s Jordy Yager has this report.

The discussion was held at the African-American Heritage Center by members of the Legal Aid Justice Center, the NAACP, and the Public Housing Association of Residents. It was titled “Gentrification, Zoning and Form Based Code.”

KIM ROLLA: Is form based code, is it related to gentrification? And if so, how?

Less than two weeks ago, the city opened bidding for a contract to develop what’s called “form based code.” This new code would rezone buildings in one of the most highly coveted downtown neighborhoods, which is primarily low and middle-income and set to be redeveloped.

DR. WILLIAM M. HARRIS: Form based codes are designed to make it —in a nutshell—to make it easier for developers to do things by-right. It cuts out the middle man, i.e. the local community, almost exclusively.

Tuesday’s meeting aimed to educate the public about the new possible code and encourage them to speak out against gentrification. One fear, according to an attorney with Legal Aide, is that developers might no longer have to support affordable housing in a city where a quarter of residents earn less than $35,000 a year.

In a separate letter sent Tuesday, leaders of 17 neighborhood associations joined to express their concern, asking City Council for more information on form based code. 

The city’s bidding process ends March 2nd.